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Hi there! I’m Jon Miller, a marketing entrepreneur, author and blogger. I’m currently the CEO and co-founder of Engagio, an "all-in-one" platform for account-based marketing. Previously, I was a co-founder at Marketo (Nasdaq:MKTO), a leader in marketing automation. Check out more latest SlideShare about Account-Based Marketing: http://bit.ly/aboutABM. I love to talk and write about marketing best practices, including demand generation, content marketing, and marketing technology. I’ve written multiple marketing books including the Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation, the DG to Engaging Email Marketing, and the DG to Marketing Metrics & Analytics. I also have a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and I’m on the Board of Scripted and am an adviser to Optimizely and Newscred. I’m also a nerd and quant-jock at heart. My undergraduate degree is in physics from Harvard College and I have an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Follow me with @jonmiller (http://www.jonmiller.com) or @Engagio (http://www.engagio.com).

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Jon,

    Thank you so much for taking time to do this AMA with us. We really appreciate it.

    When you think back to the early days of Marketo, what were some of the key things that you did when the team/budget was small that helped you find that initial traction? And do you think those things you did then still work/apply today?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      At Marketo, I started writing our blog before we wrote the first line of code. My posts were meaningful, meaty pieces of thought leadership, probably once every week or two. I also focused on reaching out to influencers large and small (OK, actually more small in the early days). This outreach was usually to comment on what they wrote, perhaps to ask them to comment on something I was working on. (People love to give interviews and share the expertise... that's why I'm here! Ha!)

      The thought leadership + influencer outreach combined to create momentum such that by the time we had a product, we had people who were "fans" of Marketo and wanted us to win. This was very valuable. Marketo's CEO always said "people are either for you or against you, so it's good to have friends".

      From there, we also had a good product which drove good word of mouth. Part of this was that we were able to position against Eloqua, a more established competitor. They were large enough to help create the market, but not so large we couldn't compete and win. They had a reputation of being expensive and complicated, so by positioning Marketo as comparable in functionality but more affordable and easy to use, we had a compelling offering.

      • MB

        Morgan Brown

        over 4 years ago #

        Thanks Jon - super helpful. With everyone "doing" content these days, do you think that approach can be as successful today or are there some nuances to stand out now that people have tried to replicate the content marketing playbook?

        • JM

          Jon Miller

          over 4 years ago #

          Ah yes, the second part of that question. I do think it can still be successful, but it's not easy. Quality matters now more than ever. Don't just blog, blog intelligently. I still believe that when you create quality content the right people will respond.

  • BP

    Brandon Pindulic

    over 4 years ago #

    I'm really curious about your Marketing / Sales lead hand-off. For example, when someone takes a demo, what's your nurture and SDR outreach process look like? (i.e. amount of touches, emails vs. calls, etc)

    • BP

      Brandon Pindulic

      over 4 years ago #

      I meant free trial, not demo! I assume for Marketo, every customer takes a demo before the sale any ways. but not everyone takes a trial

      • JM

        Jon Miller

        over 4 years ago #

        I assume you're asking about Marketo and not Engagio. The way we did it there was all free trial requests went to an inbound lead qual sales development rep (SDR). Often, he or she would try to steer the prospect towards a guided demo "test drive" since in many cases that was a better overall experience. But if a free trial was really qualified and appropriate, then a sales rep would actually pre-negotiate the terms of the eventual sale if the trial were to be successful. THEN, it would go to a customer success manager or a sales engineer to provision and help the free trial.

        We didn't need a big outreach process since usually if someone requests a free trial, they responded to the first outreach.

        Happy to chat more about generic SDR outreach...

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi Jon, fantastic to have you doing this AMA on GrowthHackers!

    What was your biggest challenge driving demand for Marketo in the early days?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      We had alot of things that went right: good content led to good SEO rankings and good traffic. We used paid programs will to build the database and then nurtured those prospects. And we had a good product that people liked to use.

      Two challenges I'll address:
      1. We never totally cracked the code on how to systematize the customer referral process. We had good informal WOM but couldn't find the right way to make it scalable or measurable.
      2. One side effect of the fact that Marketing drove so much pipeline for the sales team is that we didn't build any set of capabilities for going outbound to a target list of accounts. This meant we were at the "mercy" of which accounts came to us, and these inbound deals were usually more transactional (and competitive). Having more of a balance between high velocity inbound and intelligent outbound would have made more sense.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        Thanks, that last point makes a lot of sense. Especially about inbound leads being more competitive.

  • GM

    Gerald Marshall

    over 4 years ago #

    Since Engagio seems to be more focused on sales with support from marketing and ABM focus on account structure vs lead, contact, account will this platform have integrated CRM or rely or integration with SFDC etc.?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      We're designing Engagio to integrate with and complement both your existing CRM and existing marketing automation. Our thesis is that sales will use CRM, demand gen folks will use marketing automation, and the account-based marketers will use Engagio. Different systems for different role, but all integrated and coordinated.

  • RS

    Ranee Soundara

    over 4 years ago #

    What motivates you to start Engagio, focusing on account based marketing? And what will you look for in future hires for your marketing team? Asking for a friend ;)

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      I think ABM is the next big thing in B2B marketing. It just feels like marketing automation did back in 2008: an important topic, lots of marketers are talking about it, early adopters are having success -- but the best practices have not emerged to the mainstream and there certainly isn't an established ABM tech stack.

      For marketing people, I look for great content creators, people who are analytical (STEM background), and people who get great stuff done!

      • RS

        Ranee Soundara

        over 4 years ago #

        Thank you so much for taking the time to answer Jon! I absolutely agree, martech solutions today cater to B2C, and many of the needs/opportunities today are in B2B. ABM is an exciting big bet for you, and for marketers who are in deep need of solutions like Engagio. Wishing your team the best, and maybe one day I can look forward to having a seat on the rocketship

  • JC

    Josh Caba

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks Jon.

    If you were a brand new and completely unknown SMB startup with no funding and just a handful of customers. What would be the most effective ways to get people to start visiting your site and gaining traction in the short-term?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      I'd reach out to relevant industry influencers and ask them to provide a simple quote on a relevant topic. Compile that together into a piece of useful, meaty content, and then send it out to them. If the content is good, they'll share it and you'll get links and traffic.

      Key here is to make something that is relevant and useful! Don't underestimate the value of quality content intersected with influencers. At both Marketo and Engagio, this is how I started to build our brand and traffic.

  • CC

    Chris Conrey

    over 4 years ago #

    Jon thanks for doing this awesome service to us all. My question is with the move now towards a combined marketing and sales stack, where do you see the future relationship between those teams and which if either owns growth?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      Good question. I'm don't think we'll ever see those functions completely merge. There are too many fundamental differences in the skills and approaches each team takes. Clearly, growth is better when the two teams work together, but they play separate roles.

      In many B2B companies, I like to say marketing owns pipeline creation and sales drives pipeline close. But at companies that sell large, complex deals to the enterprise, I think sales will always be the primary owner of growth and marketing will play a key enablement function.

  • JT

    Josh Thomas

    over 4 years ago #

    Jon,

    Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA.

    What recommendations do you have for a more traditional service-based company (e.g. law firm or IT provider) with limited geographic footprint? With the limited number of target accounts within a particular geography, it can easy to "wear out your welcome" pretty quickly but may not warrant a more comprehensive account penetration strategy given expected revenue per account.

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      I like this question! The smaller your target account list, the worse it is to "wear out your welcome" no matter what your ASP is.

      If you send me an irrelevant, unwanted sales message, I'll mark your whole company as spam and nobody will ever be able to reach me again. That's always bad, but it's a real crime if your number of target accounts is not very large.

      This means that it's always important to be relevant in your outreach, no matter what. At a minimum, be relevant to the buyer's specific industry. Do a few minutes of research before you reach out to customize your message. Unless you're selling very low cost transactions, you and your team should be able to spare some time to be relevant to your prospects. //end soapbox

  • PD

    Paul Denham

    over 4 years ago #

    Hello Jon

    What do you find are the top 3 impediments to companies getting maximum benefit from marketing automation tools once they're bought in to them?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      I have a chapter on this in the Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation. http://www.marketo.com/definitive-guides/marketing-automation/

      With MA, success is often primarily determined by three things:
      1. Your strategy and process: As Bill Gates famously said, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Don’t just automate your old processes when you are introducing marketing automation into your organization. New technology requires new ways of doing things.

      2. Your content and lead flow: If marketing automation is the rocket, then content and lead flow are the fuel. If you don't have enough fuel, the rocket will sputter.

      3. Your people: Some important skills for success are business process design and implementation, analytics, and technical aptitude. If you don’t have the right skills on-staff, you’ll need to augment your current staff with training, external consultants, and/or additional hires

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Jon,

    I probably will have 15 questions for you -- sorry :/

    Two parter:

    1) At Marketo, what were the key analytics you looked at, that once you got visibility into them, really made the most impact in terms of managing growth/marketing programs, etc.

    2) What are the first metrics you instrument for at a new company, like Engagio?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      The key metrics for us were all about understanding the revenue cycle:

      0. website traffic (by source -- what's paid, what's earned, what's direct, etc.)
      1. # qualified, engaged prospects (not just names) -- both net-new and the "inventory" balance of active prospects
      2. # marketing qualified leads -- though this was arguably less accurate since the definition / score threshold sometimes moved around
      3. # opportunities
      4. conversion % and velocity between each of those stages

      Having those metrics let me understand performance, find and resolve bottlenecks, and perhaps most importantly, forecast future pipeline.

      At Engagio, those metrics will matter as well. But we are also looking at coverage, engagement, and penetration against a smaller list of target accounts.

  • RV

    Robert Voccola

    over 4 years ago #

    Jon, with Marketo and like automation solutions, Marketing finally had a seat at the revenue table. But one of the short falls in relating to a sales person was data overload due to the inherent complexity of lead scoring/nurturing an individual contact. Can you describe out account based selling (and marketing automation) changes this paradigm and brings the sales and marketing team to the same table - working in concert with one another?

    • RV

      Robert Voccola

      over 4 years ago #

      Jon, with Marketo and like automation solutions, Marketing finally had a seat at the revenue table. But one of the short falls in relating to a sales person was data overload due to the inherent complexity of lead scoring/nurturing an individual contact. Can you describe how account based selling (and marketing automation) changes this paradigm and brings the sales and marketing team to the same table - working in concert with one another?

      • JM

        Jon Miller

        over 4 years ago #

        Account-based marketing is a different paradigm for how marketing can help create pipeline. Traditional demand generation is like fishing with a net: you put your campaign out there, and you start catching ‘fish’. It doesn’t matter which specific fish you catch, as long as you catch enough fish in total. Once you have the fish, you run them through the nurture / score process and hope sales can close the deal.

        In contrast, account based marketing is going after “big fish” with spears and harpoons. This is more outbound oriented, more focused on the entire account (not just a lead), and in many case, is as focused on land-and-expand as it is about net-new logos.

        In this model, assuming marketing has collaborated with sales on defining the right set of target accounts and initiatives at those accounts, then sales will be happy when marketing helps them achieve those goals.

        In a nutshell, with traditional demand gen marketing and sales are supposed to agree on a lead definition and SLAs; with ABM marketing and sales agree on the specific accounts and people they want to connect with.

  • RS

    Ranee Soundara

    over 4 years ago #

    Does machine learning and predictive intelligence fit into the technology stack of Engagio? From a technology perspective, what differentiates Engagio from its competitors like Fliptop, that has a predictive-powered ABM solution?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Ranee. Fliptop is not a competitor to Engagio, nor are any of the predictive scoring companies. Those solutions tell you which accounts to go after, we help you go after them.

      Over time, machine learning will play a role in the Engagio stack. As marketing gets more and more complex (more data sources, more touchpoints, etc.), machines will be able to help marketers handle some of that complexity... much like an autopilot on the plane helps the pilot (though the pilot remains in charge).

      • RS

        Ranee Soundara

        over 4 years ago #

        I'm betting big on machine learning (have for the past few years), but of course, the way it's applied today is very much on B2C marketing.

        Thank you again for taking the time to post such thoughtful answers in our community. Incredible to get a peek into your perspectives and past experiences!

        We are having tons of fun :)

  • AD

    April Dunford

    over 4 years ago #

    Way back when I ran marketing for a division at Siebel we did a bunch of very targeted account-based tactics that at the time seemed very specific to my vertical (financial services and insurance). What do you think the common things are across verticals and how will Engagio handle the vertical-specific things you might want to do?
    (maybe I'm too late to this party - bloody work is getting in the way of a good AMA)

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi April! I think ABM is, at its core, a strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts.

      "Personalized" is one of the key words in that definition. Because ABM is outbound oriented (fishing with a spear), you had better be relevant in your outreach, and relevance is ideally based on a deep understanding of that target account (and specific person). Using vertical messaging is a good fallback, but I think that is still "segment marketing" and not account-based marketing.

      At Engagio, we're investing in a deep, account-centric analytics that will help companies really understand how to be relevant at their target accounts, and then orchestrate their outreach in the best way possible.

      Because we're using technology that simply wasn't available back in the Siebel days, we hope that we'll be able to get you closer to the ideal of 1:1 marketing (without killing you with complexity).

  • FH

    Feng Hong

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks a lot for doing this Jon. Funnily enough, at an inbound marketing event for Hubspot where they are talking about (among other things) targeting personas with their various tools. So, it's pretty obvious that personalization is a big focus. In your Slideshare deck explaining account-based marketing, slide 10, you explain the differentiated process of ABM. Question:

    The flow for ABM: how's it different for marketers who pretty much follow the process of initially identifying personas, figuring out the offer that converts them, and experimenting with channels that they frequent? I feel like Hubspot or Marketo would say they enable one to approach marketing the same personalized way, just not with a moniker of "ABM".

    Also, imagine data around leads being a challenge (i.e., I know who I want to target, I just don't know how to identify them). How does Engagio address that?

    Thanks!

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      Good question. The difference is that we're focused on the account as a whole while marketing automation is "lead centric". Also, the tactics are different: with ABM, you are reaching out to the target (with hyper-relevant, personalized outreach), but with traditional demand gen you are creating compelling offers (bait) and hoping the right people come to you.

      Perhaps those distinctions don't seem so big, but if you're selling US$100,000+ deals, then every little advantage from being account-specific can help.

      Per your last question, at Engagio we're focusing on helping you go after accounts and people that you've already identified. We have good partners who can help with the challenge of finding the right accounts and contacts.

      • FH

        Feng Hong

        over 4 years ago #

        Ah apologies about not getting the distinction about accounts vs leads on the first go. Didn't appreciate that Engagio's mission is to improve Outbound marketing. With that said, what are your thoughts on deciding on the right marketing mix (inbound vs outbound)? You emphasize Outbound-but-not-interruptive, and I imagine people first think "inbound" when trying to solve the interruption problem.

        Based on the focus on outbound, are there certain verticals that make more sense as customers of Engagio?

  • AD

    April Dunford

    over 4 years ago #

    In the companies I've worked for that did account based selling one of our biggest challenges has been figuring out the right "wedge" into a account from a sales perspective. We could easily determine who the buyer was but figuring out the right place to start selling so that we had the biggest chance of success was harder. Is your solution going to tackle that? What about account mapping - is that going to be part of it? (I've got a company I am working with now that might be a perfect beta customer for your stuff).

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      We are going to help with account mapping, and tracking your coverage, engagement, and penetration for each part of the org. That will serve as the basis for the various account plans.

      I'd love to discuss this topic live sometime.... jon at engagio.

      • AD

        April Dunford

        over 4 years ago #

        For sure! Will drop you a line!
        This is a massive opportunity you are talking imo - very much needed right now in companies doing big B2B stuff.

  • TS

    Tibor Szász

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi Jon,

    I'm glad you are here to meet random people :)

    We're building a productivity service (video editing tools) focusing on online video.

    a) We have a freemium model and initially I'm thinking about targeting "freebie" users to help us test the product. What do you think they key is to successful growth is? The product has a higher than average investment requirement on the user side: time and effort, but still significantly lower compared to desktop video tools.

    b) We've launched an invite only system, users can invite each other. If you seen such approaches, what made them successful?

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      Like your tool, Marketo definitely required time and investment on the user side to be successful. We always found that to be a barrier to self-service trial... if there's no skin in the game, as soon as the user hits a bump they'll bounce away. And no matter how easy the tool is to use (Marketo is quite easy), there will be a bump or lack of knowledge at some point. Net-net: at Marketo, we actually grew faster when we required customers to sign a contract and then invested our resources into making them successful (compared to growth when it was self-service trial).

      I haven't used invites myself. I think they're only valuable if you need to moderate capacity (or are a good enough marketer to create demand from scarcity, which is HARD). But even if you are moderating capacity, I'd rather pick the customers that I think will be most valuable rather than let customers pick them for me (assuming you have access to them).

  • RS

    Ranee Soundara

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi Jon! Last question. I think this is what everyone is dying to know.

    How do we bump up ourselves in the Engagio queue to be involved in the beta program when its ready? :)

    • JM

      Jon Miller

      over 4 years ago #

      Send me a note at jon at engagio. We're prioritizing companies that have some ABM in place already and use Marketo and Salesforce.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        How did you decide to give priority access to these types of companies @jonmiller2 ?

        Part of the reason I ask is that we going through these types of decisions right now for Canvas. We started our private Beta fairly wide and have narrowed to the segments that seem to have the most engagement. We then plan to expand to additional segments as we add features we believe are needed to engage those segments.

        Is there anything you learned from the early Marketo rollout that you are applying to the rollout of Engagio?

        • JM

          Jon Miller

          over 4 years ago #

          We chose these companies solely as a way of focusing our initial efforts (MVP) so we can deliver value faster. The lesson learned is focus is good....

        • RS

          Ranee Soundara

          over 4 years ago #

          Thanks Sean for asking this - I was about to ask about criterion :)

      • RS

        Ranee Soundara

        over 4 years ago #

        Thank you so much Jon!

        I don't qualify - but many of my friends do. I'll definitely tell them to sign up for the beta program.

        Besides existing integrations with Marketo/Salesforce, are there any other qualifiers? Will deal size matter in how Engagio is prioritizing the beta program as well? Since you mentioned in a previous post that ABM performs well with larger, enterprise accounts.

  • PL

    Pierre Lechelle

    over 4 years ago #

    Sorry I'm late to the party, but you know, France is always on strike...

    What'd be your advices for a B2B company that is just starting out?
    What were your biggest wins at Marketo? Which "tactics" worked best?

  • LS

    Laurent Sabbah

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi Jon, thanks for doing this.

    I see how much you stress good content (blogging intelligently) + reaching out to industry influencers and I agree, especially at the early stage with no budget.

    My questions is what do you do if you're in an industry where there aren't really any influencers (of course, become one, but that takes time) and where the interesting content you can blog about is somewhat limited.

    So you actually see what I mean...we're a localization startup (https://www.Bablic.com) - we have a great product, and we do answer a growing problem. The issue here though is there's only so much I can blog about (advantages of localization, why localize and a few other topics)...and in terms of industry influencers, they're hard to find and the ones who do know what they're talking about, have a small following.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks again!

  • GB

    Gennady Barsky

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks alot for this! I'm just browsing the comment section to see if my question has been answered haha

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